Best Breakup Story EVER – I was ghosted with a ghost cake.

Best Breakup Story EVER – I was ghosted with a ghost cake.

It was definitely not a Halloween treat.

What’s worse than a breakup, worse than being ghosted, worse than being dumped on Halloween? Apparently, my life.

I was ghosted with a ghost cake on Halloween. I had no clue that anything had gone wrong. Our last text was normal: friendly, funny, inviting, as usual. The next thing I know, I don’t hear from him for the better part of the day, something pretty unusual for him. So I check in to see if he’s ok? No answer. Well, we’ve all been here before, right? He could be sleeping, at the movies, his dog got sick, he dropped his cellphone in the toilet. We learn not to overreact after we’ve been burned by our own behavior a few times.

So I go about my day. Four hours later and still no response, again, to a person with whom my last interaction was absolutely normal.  Now I’m a little worried. Is he ok? Does he need assistance? Is he in a ditch somewhere? So I text again. Still, trying to keep this on a very chill level – what if he just fell asleep and has no idea I’m trying to contact him? I ask, “Are you ok?” To which I get no answer – again.

Now I’m getting a little irritated. I don’t know what is going on and I don’t know why he’s not answering. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be worrying, or if I’m supposed to be getting the message that he’s ghosting me (intentionally not answering me to let me know that he wants me to go away). I don’t have the time or the patience for this, it’s just so third-grade. I’m completely annoyed at this point. A half hour goes by and it’s now 9 pm and our last communication was 10 am – not even close to our usual pattern.

Being both worried and frustrated with a lack of information, I decide that I’d prefer to have something rather than nothing to help me make sense of this. I make a conscious choice to text again: Hey. I’m a bit worried about you. If you’re ok and getting my texts could you just text something back? A thumbs up emoji or something? After that, I don’t need anything from you. I really just want to know if you are ok?

3-2-1 and a photo of a cake appears on my phone. It’s a cake that says Happy Halloween in bright orange letters. It has ghosts made out of icing in different colors flying in all different directions. After that, I hear nothing. Ever. Again.

The next day I’m at lunch with one of my best friends. “How was Halloween?” she asks. I tell her the story, in vivid detail, of the day before. I watch her process the information. I watch her take it all in. I see it register. Then her face turns bright red and she screams “OH MY GOD! YOU WERE GHOSTED WITH A GHOST CAKE!” The restaurant goes quiet and everyone turns to look at me – the girl who was ghosted with a ghost cake. My friend has her head down and is laughing so hard that tears are spilling onto the restaurant table.

I am so embarrassed. I look up at the people still looking at me and turn back to my friend. She obviously could have made her announcement a lot quieter. “Well,” I said defensively, “If I was going to get ghosted, at least I was special enough to get a ghost cake. Who else gets a ghost cake when they’re getting dumped?” She looks at me and deliberates this and then nods her head. “Right,” she says, “Everyone else just gets ignored. You didn’t actually get a cake. You got a picture of one. But that’s pretty damn awesome.” She’s still laughing as she declares, “Only you would get ghosted with a ghost cake.” We both smile and laugh. I’m beginning to see the humor in the situation. It is kind of funny.

That weekend we are all out to dinner, my friend, myself, and eight more of our closest friends. “Ask Susan about her Halloween!” my friend yells out before we’ve even ordered anything to drink. The entire table turns to me to hear about my Halloween. Several days have gone by now and I have processed this crazy story myself, or at least to the best of my own ability. I proudly announce that I was ghosted with a ghost cake. Everyone stops moving, stops settling in, stops looking at their drink menus, and looks up to hear my story. By the time I’m done retelling my spooky Halloween tale we are making a scene in a very nice restaurant. We’re laughing, screaming, and everyone is yelling at the same time about a ghost cake. You just can’t make this stuff up.

The picture of the cake has become a symbol between my friends and me. It has now circulated among all of our phones at least five times. On bad days, on good, at random moments in time, one of us will get a ghost cake photo text with no words. It’s become a statement between us that we had the last laugh, that we have the ability to see the humor in life, and that this ridiculous gesture became the gift that keeps on giving. Who breaks up with someone by sending them a photo of a cake? He did. I have the photo to prove it. And one of the best breakup stories EVER.

Do you think you have a good breakup story too? Visit me on Facebook and share it! Let’s celebrate the mistakes that we avoided. Let’s remember that laughing at life can be really fun too. As long as we are still here to laugh, as long as no one got hurt, as long as we can unite and remember that we need to build a better tomorrow for everyone who still needs us.

(Please – NO ex-BF or GF names or stories will not be shared).

 

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com or call or visit THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at 1-800-799-7233 for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety.

 Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™  

#NotInOurHomes     #TomorrowIsTooLate

Susan is a twenty-year victim and six-year Survivor Of Domestic Abuse (SODA®). Her reporting has been seen on national network news and her writing has been featured on national media. She has also studied and worked in the field of divorce. As Susan Sparks, she is an Expert on YourTango.com and has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) and other popular online sites such as Medium and Hollywood Life. She has written a book about her experiences with domestic abuse, Sparks in Love, which she hopes will serve as both an educational and cautionary tale to everyone who reads it. She is the Principal of four enterprises, and one charity, The SODA Fund, all dedicated to helping people avoid, understand and prevent domestic abuse. Susan is currently working on three other books to further the cause and hopes to bring Sparks in Love to television in 2019.

Follow Susan at TheSoda-Pop.com, The SODA Fund, FACEBOOK, Twitter, YouTube

How Dating Apps Are Like Bulk Candy Stores

How Dating Apps Are Like Bulk Candy Stores

Are you a flavor of the week or a newfound favorite?

Have you ever walked into a bulk candy store and filled your bag with every possible flavor and size and shape that looked appealing to you, thinking that you would narrow it down from thousands to just one flavor that you would want to have for the rest of your life? You’re standing in the middle of that store, thousands of flavors and colors all around you, and you’re thinking: I know my favorite candy is in here somewhere! I just need to take my time, try hundreds of these first, and then I am going to find the one flavor that has been missing my entire life. After that, I will never come to this store again. I will never have candy, even though it is everywhere I go. I’ll leave it behind because all of my hopes and dreams will be discovered with this one magical piece of candy. I won’t look over my shoulder at the other flavors. The ones that might taste better. The ones that might cost less, be less sticky, won’t cause cavities…The ones, that, ‘Hey, what’s that new one? That wasn’t here last week.’ Yeah, I didn’t think so. Neither have I.

Why would we? Why would we walk into a place filled with thousands of choices that are put there with the intent, with the allure, to make us happy and think that we should choose only one? And, to complicate matters further, what if the last time we chose one piece of candy we got deathly ill and ended up in the hospital? Then we have an even harder time thinking about choosing just one again, look what happened the last time we did that! This is exactly what has happened to dating in our world with the introduction of the internet, dating apps, and the unmissable fact that, according to the last US Census Report, there are now more than 110 million single people in the US over the age of 18 – either divorced, widowed, or never married.

As a divorced woman using these dating apps I don’t just see it happen, I have to admit that I am sometimes the perpetrator as well. I don’t like him? Well, no worries because there will be a new him next week, or tomorrow or you know what? There will be a new him anytime I want because the apps never close, the world never shuts down, and I keep a phone charger next to my bed. Yep. It never stops.

I’ve been on the other side of this as well. I’m out with a new person on a Friday night. I think we’re having a great time. He asks me what I’m doing the rest of the weekend and I tell him. I ask him the same and he starts visibly squirming in his seat. A telltale sign: he has another date the next day. And dating – IT IS NOT MARRIAGE – it is not a relationship, it is DATING, presents a problem for us here.

We bump into this all the time as single men and women. What is dating and how do we handle it when we are out with one person and clearly going to see another one the next day or even later the same day? What are the rules? What do we tell the person we’re with? Do we tell them anything at all? Is that rude or is it better to be transparent?

As someone who has been on both sides of this issue: offensive and offended, and someone who has worked to counsel others about abuse, divorce, and what healthy love can look like, I think I’ve learned a few fundamental lessons that we all know deep down inside but may have forgotten. It might be a good time to go back to some of these while our society continues to, literally, act like the kid in the candy store when it comes to dating.

I have three dating rules that I have found to be incredibly successful:

  1. Define what dating means to you. Merriam-Webster defines dating as: to make a usually romantic social arrangement to meet with. Nowhere does it say, one person, only one person, or any other specifics about what a date does or does not mean. So what does that mean? It means that the rules of dating are up for interpretation by each individual, and no one is right or wrong about their own dating behavior. If we start off by understanding this fundamental truth, and agree to agree, or agree to disagree, then we will at least begin from the same place.
  2. Be very clear about your intentions. Because of the difference in opinion on what dating means to different people, I choose to be honest and transparent from the beginning. If one person thinks that dating means one person at a time and the other thinks it means meeting many people at once, you are already walking into a messy situation. For me personally, I like to get to know people before I date one person exclusively. Exclusively, now that is a word that we can all understand. This approach takes a lot of pressure off of a new situation and allows both people to feel free to explore. What I have often found is if the man I have met is interested in me, he will act quickly to move to an exclusive dating relationship. If that is not what he wants with me or anyone else, I also tend to find out sooner. In all ways, being clear and upfront seems to work well
  3. Be considerate and polite. We need to remember that there is a human on the other side of the phone, or screen, or app that we are using. I think it is too easy to forget this when we are staring at a photo, or reading text words rather than seeing a face or hearing a voice. It’s a mistake that is made too often and has set us back light years in social communications. Manners and etiquette seem to have simply evaporated, and many singles have decided that since we are forging new paths in the dating world that no previous rules apply. I don’t agree and I won’t follow suit. A simple reminder to treat others the way we want to be treated would immediately make all of our dating lives better.

We can’t change what we have these days: a whole lot of singles and a whole lot of choices. Our best bet is to walk the path with many, narrow it down to few, and to be open and honest about what we want and what we hope will come out of our experiences together. If someone doesn’t like you, then a new you will be standing right behind ready to take your place. Honestly, there’s nothing you can do to prevent that. So you need to remind yourself why it is their loss for letting you go and then secretly snicker to yourself about how foolish their mistake was. Snicker? Oh, now see? That was always my favorite flavor.

As with all things good, there are dark sides too. If you are in a dating relationship gone bad or feel that something is not right, please do not ignore the early warning signs of abuse. Learn them and pay attention to your instincts at all times. Get help today. #TomorrowIsTooLate

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com or call or visit THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at 1-800-799-7233 for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety.

 Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™

 #NotInOurHomes     #TomorrowIsTooLate

Susan is a twenty-year victim and six-year Survivor Of Domestic Abuse (SODA®). Her reporting has been seen on national network news and her writing has been featured on national media. She has also studied and worked in the field of divorce. As Susan Sparks, she is an Expert on YourTango.com and has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) and other popular online sites such as Medium and Hollywood Life. She has written a book about her experiences with domestic abuse, Sparks in Love, which she hopes will serve as both an educational and cautionary tale to everyone who reads it. She is the Principal of four enterprises, and one charity, all dedicated to helping people avoid, understand, and prevent domestic abuse. Susan is currently working on three other books to further the cause and hopes to bring Sparks in Love to television in 2019.

Follow Susan at www.thesoda-pop.com, FACEBOOK, Twitter, YouTube

Flowers and Chocolates and Broken Dreams

Flowers and Chocolates and Broken Dreams

It’s never too late to claim a new life. It’s never too late for real love.

Flowers and chocolates, broken dreams.

Romance and kisses, silent screams.

Loving futures, years gone by.

Tears of joy, want to cry.

Brightest of morning, darkest of night.

Pureness of love, terror and fright.

Trust in the newness, worn by the old.

Feeling the warmth, frozen from cold.

We once believed, in all of our dreams.

That we could trust love, that words were not mean.

You showed us different, now different we are.

Survivors are strong – the strongest by far.

We don’t want words that cut like a knife.

We need one gift, a true and free life.

In Recognition of the Love We Lost, by Susan Sparks

In Honor of Valentine’s Day and a New Day for All of Us…

A Universal Truth About Love

Having lived with real love and having lived with abusive love, I have learned that there is a stark difference between the two. One is pure and strong and never dies. The other is toxic and corrosive and disguises itself as love, but is truly an impostor used to trick us. There is something born out of this notion that we all need to agree upon: love does not fail us, people do.

And not all people fail us. Someone did. Someone upon whom we once pinned all of our hopes and dreams, someone with whom we once saw our future unfolding, someone that we once thought we would spend the rest of our days with, failed us. That hurts. It cuts deep and it wounds us.

After this happens we are inclined not to trust love. Why would we want to? We once did and look what happened. The problem is that we put a lot of blame on love, and love really isn’t the culprit here. On this day of love, Valentine’s Day, it‘s a great time to remember what love is and what it can be.

Love is kind, it does not abuse. Love is generous, it does not withhold. Love is joyful, it is not scary. Love is freedom, it is not control. Love is a light that colors our lives, it is not a darkness that we keep within.

As Lord Byron so beautifully wrote:

…And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

When we are ready to approach love again it is important to remember that love did not fail us. If we truly believe that then we will never again step out there as complete beings. We will only stick a toe in the water and think it is burning hot. We will believe it hurts, but not really feel anything. It is our job to learn from our experiences. It is our job to become stronger from them. Then, it is our job, when we are ready, to approach love again with an open mind and an open heart.

I know from experience how difficult this is, and I still work at it every day. I have learned that love is an equal balance of feelings shared between two people: one does not always win, one does not always rule, and one does not always control. As SODA®s we once lived a life where we questioned love. But what we really needed to do was question the one who was telling us that they loved us. On Valentine’s Day and always, I wish you real love, peace, and joy. But more than anything, I wish you a happy and free life.

Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com or call or visit THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at: 1-800-799-7233 for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety. 

#NotInOurHomes   #TomorrowIsTooLate

Susan is a twenty year victim and six year Survivor Of Domestic Abuse (SODA®). Her reporting has been seen on national network news and her writing has been featured on national media. She has also studied and worked in the field of divorce. As Susan Sparks she is an Expert on YourTango.com and has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) and other popular online sites such as Medium and Hollywood Life. She has written a book about her experiences with domestic abuse, Sparks in Love, which she hopes will serve as both an educational and cautionary tale to everyone who reads it. She is the Principal of four enterprises, and one charity, all dedicated to helping people avoid, understand, and prevent domestic abuse. Susan is currently working on three other books to further the cause and hopes to bring Sparks in Love to television in 2019.

Follow Susan at: www.thesoda-pop.com, FACEBOOK, Twitter, YouTube

Read This: It may one day save your life – or the life of someone you love.

Read This: It may one day save your life – or the life of someone you love.

How one boy taught us to ask for help without saying a word.

The other day I heard this story about a boy who avoided what could have been a serious danger by simply pulling out his cellphone. He was walking home from school when an unfamiliar car slowed down next to him. He looked directly at it and it slowed down more, now keeping pace with him. Feeling as if something was not right, he reached into his pocket, grabbed his phone, and began taking pictures of the car’s license plate. The driver saw what he was doing and sped away. That boy may have prevented his own abduction by listening to his gut instinct and acting quickly. This made me think about how often we tell our kids to put their phones away and how maybe we should be telling them when not to.

It also got me to thinking about the quickness to which he relied on his instincts to save himself, and when I stopped listening to my own? During a recent interview, I was asked why I wrote in flashbacks to my own childhood in my new book SPARKS IN LOVE. My answer was simple: it was the last time I knew myself as an intact person, before being changed by a life of domestic abuse. I once was someone who trusted in herself, who would listen to her gut when it was screaming at her to pay attention. Now I’m working to find that voice again, the one I pushed down so deep inside of me that it is barely a whisper on a silent day.

This story is so compelling because the boy used his phone, something our kids have in their pockets most of the time, and changed his life, without making a sound or saying a word. He had something the rest of us have in our purses, bags, or pockets most of the time as well, right? So it led me to think about how simple it can be to ask for help, silently, anytime. And I never thought about it that way before. I sat with my own teenage boys and told them the story. I needed to tell them to always listen to their own gut instincts. I wanted to find a way to get to them before the world did, and I wanted them to know to always trust in themselves first and act quickly.

Asking for help can be difficult. Especially for victims of domestic abuse who have long since lost their own voices. But, like the boy who just started clicking away, maybe sending a text would somehow be easier. It’s for this reason that The National Domestic Violence Hotline launched a feature where you can chat for help. And, I am pleased to announce that we offer a direct connection to that feature on TheSoda-Pop.com on our Get Help page.

Sometimes it is the bravery of others which inspires us. Sometimes it is the fear instilled in us from watching others narrowly escape with their own lives that will prompt us to action. And sometimes it’s just a simple solution, one you may not have known existed, being presented to you. That boy was a hero in his own life. You can be your own hero too. Just listen to your gut instincts. They were there all along. Read this story, pass it on. It may one day save the life of someone you love.

 

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com or call THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at 1-800-799-7233 or visit http://www.thehotline.org for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety.

Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™

 #NotInOurHomes           #TomorrowIsTooLate

Susan Sparks is a twenty-year victim and six-year survivor of domestic abuse (SODA™). Her reporting has been seen on national network news and her writing has been featured on national media. As Susan Sparks, she is an Expert on YourTango.com and has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org). She has written a book about her experiences with domestic abuse, Sparks in Love, which she hopes will serve as both an educational and cautionary tale to everyone who reads it. She is the Principal of four enterprises, and one charity, all dedicated to helping people avoid, understand, and prevent domestic abuse. Susan is currently working on three other books to further the cause and hopes to bring Sparks in Love to television in 2019.

Follow Susan at  www.thesoda-pop.com, FACEBOOK, Twitter, YouTube

Why do I do this? Three simple words. Not so simple.

Why do I do this? Three simple words. Not so simple.

Why a Survivor of Domestic Abuse would work in the field of abuse.

This morning I was thanked publicly on social media for hosting a Super Bowl party that I did not host. In a home that I no longer own. By a family who does not know me. The innocent parent thanked Mr. and Mrs. X for having their son at the wonderful party and generously hosting so many families from our town. The Mr. X being, literally, Mr. Ex (my ex-husband) and the Mrs. X being his girlfriend, starring in the role of Mrs. X, in my old home, just a few miles from where I now live. A home that I paid for, a home where I once lived out some of my worst nightmares, a home that I try not to think about. Now, this morning, a home where I was forced to visualize a giant party filled with many families and children from my hometown on the night of the Super Bowl. And I was thanked publicly for hosting it – not my favorite way to start the day.

It is these moments, and countless moments like these every day and every week, that makes me think of the question I am asked during almost every media interview: Having escaped a life of domestic abuse, why would you turn around and dedicate your life to working in the field of domestic abuse? For so many who have lived this life and escaped it, telling their story is too difficult.  Others will spend years healing before they are strong enough to turn around and give back in whatever form they choose. But for me, there is a driving force that tells me that I need to do something now because this happened to me. And even bigger than that, this is happening to one in four of us.

Being someone who likes to attack issues strategically, it occurs to me that I first need to somehow get in front of this and slow down the speeding train. How do I do that? How do we do that? Because we clearly need to figure out a way to get in front of this epidemic in a way that stops it before it begins. So where does it begin? It seems that we need to reach out and educate our future victims before they have the chance to become a statistic – so we can change that before it ever happens. And if we can do that, if we can get there first, would we see change? I truly believe that we will. And that is why I do this. That is why I spend my days working in the field in which I once fled for my life: for the children. For my children. For all children. It’s just that simple, and then, not so simple.

When I face moments that are tough to deal with, I stop and see it through the eyes of my boys. They

are thriving. They are growing into wonderful young men. They are enjoying their lives. I am giving everything I have to be the best mom that I can for them and somehow, through all of the adversity that we have faced, we have arrived at this day. For the other children out there, those not yet touched by abuse, those who may be walking straight towards it, and those who may be fortunate enough to never get near it (but may be able to save another one day), there is work to be done. There is a message that needs to be conveyed to them immediately that doesn’t seem to be getting through.

No matter how great our parenting skills are, somehow we are not getting all the way through: girls use your words, boys listen to them. There’s so much more to say, but that is a simple place to start, and yet, not so simple. I’m here to remind all of us that we need to say this not once, but over and over and over. We will be changing or saving a life one day. That is what statistics tell us right now. It’s that important.

What we do next is entirely up to us. If we can’t lead an effort, then we can support one. If we can’t work in the field, then we can help raise awareness simply by using our own social media to help spread the word. And, if we can’t bring a crowd together to rally, we must know today that adding our own single voice to that crowd will be enough to raise the volume on a conversation that desperately needs to happen on a daily basis. If I can be thanked publicly for hosting a party that I did not host, then I can be helped publicly for hosting an effort that I am hosting. Please pick up the following paragraph and post it on your social media today – and ask everyone you know to do the same. It only takes one voice to make a difference. It only took one parent to thank the wrong person today and here I am telling the world about it.

 

———————————— PICK IT UP, POST IT, PASS IT ON————————————

Every child has the right to grow up in a world that feels predictable and live in a home that feels safe. Every year ten million children are exposed to domestic abuse and violence. Every day 20,000 calls are placed to domestic abuse helplines. Please add your voice to the conversation today and let’s change tomorrow for the sake of all of our children. For more information visit: www.thesoda-pop.com                                                          #NotInOurHomes  #TomorrowIsTooLate  Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™

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If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com or call THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at 1-800-799-7233 or visit http://www.thehotline.org for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety.

 Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™

#NotInOurHomes           #TomorrowIsTooLate

Susan Sparks is a twenty-year victim and six-year survivor of domestic abuse (SODA™). Her reporting has been seen on national network news and her writing has been featured on national media. As Susan Sparks, she is an Expert on YourTango.com and has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org). She has written a book about her experiences with domestic abuse, Sparks in Love, which she hopes will serve as both an educational and cautionary tale to everyone who reads it. She is the Principal of four enterprises, and one charity, all dedicated to helping people avoid, understand, and prevent domestic abuse. Susan is currently working on three other books to further the cause and hopes to bring Sparks in Love to television in 2019.

Follow Susan at www.thesoda-pop.com, FACEBOOK, Twitter, YouTube